In a major trouble for Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, a Supreme Court bench of CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Aniruddha Bose on Tuesday set aside the clean chit given to the senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader in the alleged false election affidavit case. The SC allowed Fadnavis' prosecution under Section 125 of Representation of People Act and also directed the trial court to consider afresh the complaint filed by Satish Ukey alleging non-disclosure by the Maharashtra Chief Minister of all pending criminal cases against him.
The order comes just a few weeks before Maharashtra elects a new Assembly. Fadnavis is the chief ministerail candidate of the BJP in the state which will vote on October 21 with the declaration of results taking place three days later on October 24.
On December 13, 2018, the apex court had issued a notice to Fadnavis over alleged nondisclosure of pending criminal cases in an election affidavit. Fadnavis had got the clean chit by Bombay High Court on May 3, 2018. The HC had upheld the trial court's order not to entertain Ukey's complaint against Fadnavis.
Fadnavis had contested from Nagpur South-West constituency in the 2014 Assembly election. As per the rules laid down by Election Commission, he was required to disclose in his affidavit accompanying the nomination form, all the details of criminal cases under Section 33A, both in which he stood convicted and those pending against him where a criminal court had taken cognizance.
After the 2014 Assembly election, Ukey accused Fadnavis of concealing information about two criminal cases where a trial judge had taken cognizance. These cases were – RCC No. 343 of 2003 (Madanlal Parate v Shashikant Hastak & Ors) involving forgery and RCC No. 231 of 1996 (Madanlal Parate v Devendra Fadnavis) involving an offence under criminal defamation.
While charges were not framed in both the cases but Ukey said in his plea that since the Court of First Class Judicial Magistrate, Nagpur, took cognizance of the above cases, Fadnavis must have disclosed them, and by not doing so he was liable to face prosecution under Section 125A of the Representation of Peoples Act 1951.